Because I grew up with it. No one should grow up with it. Sadly I've had too many dear friends and family that have.
Many times I've wondered why my birth father grew up to be such a train wreck. Where were the early markers? What catalysts propelled him to a life of anger, alcoholism and domestic violence? As far as I knew there wasn't any physical violence for him growing up except maybe some corporal punishment. There were definitely emotional distance and dysfunction issues with his mom, but both he and his brother had the support and love of their sister.
And what about my first step-father? Sure he was bipolar and refused to take his meds, but what drove him to abuse my mother, sister and me? His abuse was much more mysterious and insidious than my birth father's, but abuse is abuse and violence is violence. Thank God we were only with him for less than three years.
I just don't frickin' know. So happy to have the father I have now, that much is clear.
How do we break the cycle of violence? Prosecuting the abusers and incarcerating is the end game for many repeat offenders, and as it should be. And even in this dismal economy where victim services and domestic violence programs and shelters are scrambling for every penny to stay alive, what are we doing to break the cycle on the front end?
October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. My good friend, Kim Wells, the Executive Director of the Corporate Alliance to End Partner Violence (CAEPV), posted 10 Things You Can Do About Domestic Violence on her blog Domestic Violence and the Workplace. Even though I haven't met Kim in person yet, I call her my good friend because of our online connection and common cause that calls for healthy non-violent relationships.
Here are her 10 things you can do:
1) Sign the MADE petition to get dating violence curriculum in schools. Go to http://www.loveisnotabuse.com/made (did that)
2) Find out more about domestic violence. Go to http://www.clicktoempower.org/ and see the stories of survivors and what made the difference for them. (you must visit this site)
4) Learn about how domestic violence impacts your workplace by visiting http://www.caepv.org/. (great resources here)
5) Remember the National Domestic Violence Hotline Number: 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE) or http://www.ndvh.org/. You can call to help others or yourself.
6) Donate your old cell phone (any brand) at any Verizon Wireless store or use free mailing label www.verizonwireless.com/hopelinemailinglabel (did that)
7) Learn to talk to your kids about healthy relationships by downloading tip booklets from http://www.loveisnotabuse.com/ (will do this)
8) Try to understand what happens in DV and how it impacts people. Check out http://www.domesticviolenceworkplace.blogspot.com/. And comment! (subscribe to this blog)
9) Don't ask "Why would that victim go back?" ask "Why would a person hit or abuse someone they love?"
10) Be safe, healthy and happy in your own relationships. Because you matter. And you deserve it. And you are very, very precious.
- Each day in the U.S., three women die as result of domestic violence.
- More than one in four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime.
- More than three out of four Americans know someone who is or has been a victim of domestic violence.
I have hope it can so that my Beatrice can grow up strong and safe in the knowledge that most people are good with healthy relationships. We can get there. As Kim wrote, we are all very, very precious - and I know my baby is.
Everyday should be domestic violence awareness day. We've got to help those in abusive relationships model healthy family relationships regardless if they're straight or gay, men or women, children or adults, or whatever they're religious and cultural backgrounds are. In the societal context of today, we do not and cannot accept the norm.
In fact, it's more than literal physical abuse. It's those in relationships who abuse drugs and alcohol, who have mental illness, who verbally abuse - anything destructive to self, family and community.
We've got to increase the production of purple elevate patches pronto.
I pledge to raise awareness and intervene when necessary. That's what I'm pledging on my birthday today.